Day Three: 40 days of no chocolate challenge – Help me out London!!

Good evening all!! what are you up to? Are you eating chocolate? I hope not! Ha!

I am currently sat on my friends sofa in London watching a movie! Now people, I have great friends, even friends who go to the extra length of supporting me in my sugar fast! Ha, almost the truth…… My friend also has given up the good stuff for lent so I’m in good hands this weekend! However instead of afternoon tea or a cheeky ice cream down at Southbank this weekend, we shall mostly be eating meat and cocktails….fine by me!!! 🙂 good times!!

My boyfriend told me last night that bourbons did not have chocolate in them….WHAT??? This is great news…this could be the answer to the pit of darkness I will eventually fall deep into…….. But no, thanks to good old google, it’s sadly not true and I can confirm that bourbons DO have cocoa in them! Dam….back to the drawing board!!

Anywho, this evening’s substitute to keep me sane and secure is not just sweet popcorn but sweet and salty popcorn!!! Get me ey!! I shall now be spending the remainder of my evening crunching, sipping wine and maybe even having a tipple of the old whiskey!! Who says life without chocolate is baaaad?!?!?!

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Some of my favourite recipes

Summer equals berries in this house. Even if summer also equals fog. (There is something refreshing about walking to work in a cool drizzle in July.) The three of us go through containers of blackberries on a regular basis – we heart blackberries. I was itching to mash some up and make a cupcake out of them. But things are hectic these days and I was having trouble committing. I think I purchased one or two ingredients every shopping trip over two weeks until finally on the way home Tuesday night I stopped at the corner store and thought, “I will see if they have lemons and blackberries”. And they did! Organic, too!

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5 tips to baking the perfect cupcakes

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With National cupcake week closing in on us, what better ay to celebrate than with a gorgeous baking experience in your own home? With that in mind here are my top 5 tips for baking the worlds most delicious cupcakes.

1) Choose a good recipe
Use either the internet or your selection of cupcake books (which all home bakers should have), my favourite book is from Magnolia Bakery in New York. Search for a recipe that jumps out at you, you will usually find at least 1 that really tickles your fancy.
The basic recipe for making 12 cupcakes is:
125g butter
125g caster sugar
125g sel-raising flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk

2) Perfect the mixture
A decent mixer can take a lot of the hassle out of creaming or mixing your cake mixture, it can be a great investment if you are a regular baker. You can also use it for any large batches that you need to make (I do this to fulfil large orders).

When food processors and kitchen machines were tested a well known comparison magazine, each machine was tested to see how well it mixed batter, including variables such as speed, how evenly it was mixed, the volume in which the cake rose during baking.

3) Use a good cooker
One of the most overlooked factors of making a great cupcake is the oven in which it is baked. You’ll get the best results in a decent oven in which the temperature is distributed evenly. Otherwise some of your batch may be burned while others are left gooey and uncooked (believe me, I learned this from experience).

Choosing a good oven is essential, to test your oven you can bake several strips of shortbread scattered around your oven to test heat distribution along with a large sponge cake to test how well a cake will rise (in terms of how even it rises and browns). You will know if you have a great oven if your cake is perfectly shaped and browned nicely.

4) Decorations
A huge factor in how good your cupcakes are is the decorations, a good decoration can change the whole shape and perspective of your cakes. Try to make them look pretty but looks are completely secondary to taste. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing people eating your cakes and scraping off your icing.

5) Cupcake makers
You can get a great cupcake maker (similar to a waffle maker) your general cupcake make will make a dozen cupcakes. They are simple to use, most do not even have an on button, simply plug them in and pour in your mixture, then the machine will bake them (almost to perfection). They will take around 10 minutes to bake your cakes and the majority of people wont even notice that they are not home baked.

I have tried out several machines and they basically all do the same job. These are for the lazy cupcake maker and on the record I do not endorse them (off the record, they can be amazing).